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Another Mobile World Congress, but lets see Nokia and Microsoft first February 21, 2011

Posted by tcarlyle in Uncategorized.
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Wow, it has been a year since the last time I’ve posted. Maybe blogging is really not for me and I should throw the towel… It is not hat I have not had enough interesting things to post, as we just had our new keychain presented in the Mobile Congress this year. It is not also that I’ve been completely out of time, as time problems are in fact priority problems. The truth is that I have not given too much priority to the blog. I’m not sure if I will, but I want to write my stake on the Nokia + Microsoft deal (and probably write about the keychain after winter holidays).

But well, the most commented topic of last week has been the decision of Nokia to embrace Windows Phone as its operational system. There has been a few great analysis of the deal like one posted at visionmobile and the one of Tomi Ahonen. What all analysis have already said and which is clear to see is that Microsoft is the one who will get more from this alliance. No matter how much money they may have put in this agreement, now they will power the biggest handset manufacturer, and the one with the best relations towards the mobile operators.

But what about Nokia? The main reason why people have been negative towards Nokia’s future with this alliance is because it “got rid off” 2 operating systems and a great development toolkit. They are going to support Symbian during this migration phase and will launch a Meego device, but I do not think this will be enough to keep their current developer community (for the ones that have not migrated yet).  Whether this has been a good decision is a bit controversial…

Symbian and Ovi have been really lacking behind by far from iOS and Android, which contributed to the drastic drop of smartphone sales. Then, Meego is taking ages to mature and become the so promised alternative. On the other hand, Nokia positioned themselves and was investing hard on Meego, Symbian and Qt, and this was really true as I was receiving tons of job announcement from Nokia regarding R&D positions linked to Meego, Symbian and Qt (I’ve registered on their website about 2 years ago and I still keep receiving their emails). But, then, from one minute to the other, they completely change their mind… They may soon sack people that they have just hired.

Maemo was an amazing OS. I love my N810 and I really had hopes that Meego would be able to bring back that smartphone experience. Most analysts agreed that the best path for Nokia would have been a powerful Meego/Qt. This would require some serious investment and work on Meego/Qt, after all now they would be competing with Google, Apple and Microsoft on Operational Systems and Developing Platforms. Nokia seemed to was positioning into that, but apparently they have not been fast enough. They probably did not manage to convince investors of putting more money or time into it. Then, if they do not want to invest really hard on it, as it seems to be, the best alternative is really to drop it.

The reasons for going for Microsoft rather then Android have already been mentioned all around: fear of commoditization and becoming a hardware company, Stephen Elop, financial offer from Microsoft, lobby from operators and trying to get more power on american market. I do not think the first and last items are that relevant in this case because I do not believe that Nokia will be able to get much more software ownership with Microsoft (the only really valuable piece of software/service they will add is maps and navigation). Moreover, many analysts seem to agree that putting a “Windows inside” will not be a big differential in the US.  A “google inside” would probably make more impact.

So at the end, Nokia chose to take a risky path going with a new OS (Windows Phone), with limited developing community and with a company whose track in mobile has not been able to convince yet. I would think that they did that expecting to be backed by operators which are afraid from Android and IPhone. Besides that, there is some hope for Windows Phone. Their last OS has received a good number of positive reviews and they have the Xbox and Windows Live community which could make a difference (though it hasnt yet on the previous windows phones). By the fast peace of the mobile industry, soon we will find out how it turns.

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